June 19, 2012
Report by Satyabrata, Sivram
On the 12th and 13th of June, 2012, there was a massive eviction drive at Cuttack Bidanasi Municipal Colony Nua sahi Basti in Ward no.1 of Cuttack Municipal Corporation, which is a more than forty years slum. In the presence of sub-collector, Cuttack, Jyoti Prakash Das, 110 houses were bulldogged. This was done with in two phases with 7 platoons of Police and multiple bulldoggers. There was a prior notice from the High Court of Orissa that the slum needed to be evicted. The ironical part is that, it is the same High Court that passed a judgment against the Govt. of Orissa on the 15th of September, 2010 according to which it is compulsory for the Government to rehabilitate before any slum is evicted. Government has continuously been stating through several channels, the Media and its local agents in the region that the land belonged to the Government and hence, no rehabilitation would be provided.
It is necessary to note that the slum is a ‘tenable slum’ under the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (Sl.No. 6/ ward no. I, Nua sahi Basti) near Peta Nala area. Rajiv Abaas Yojna survey was complete in all the houses. Majority of these people have Voter Identification Cards, BPL cards issued in 1997 and BPL Survey done in 2004 and their list is published in 2006. The area also has Govt. funded tube wells and Electric supply posts. Media reports that the people living in the slum have houses in Cuttack and hence the Government would provide no rehabilitation. On enquiry, however, it was found that none of the people had any households nearby. Ward member, Nirupama Hati and MLA, Cuttack-Barabati, Debasish Samantaray (without whose permission this couldn’t have been) have not yet shown up.
Another aspect of the eviction drive show fraudulent behavior of those engaged in communicating with the masses there. The reason that was told to them was that, a 100 feet wide road was to be chalked out in which process, some houses needed to be broken. At the time of eviction 153 feet wide roadway was chalked out. Peoples’ resistance was met with lathi charges. In the next phase the Government plans to demolish 73 houses and then they say evictions will stop. It is a new tactics that Orissa Government has taken up to break the slums. Similar incidents were seen in Patharabandha Basti, Bhubaneswar when, in the name of 41 houses, 263 houses were demolished. The tactics include, “only this many houses will be demolished for this-and-this purpose and the rest would be spared.” This affects the self-organisation of the slum dwellers. The same is being seen in the case of Nua Sahi Basti. 73 more houses are awaiting their turn to be attacked by the State.